FIRST OF ALL, I need to vent about how Netflix freaked me the fuck out by reorganizing its genre categorization. Horror is no longer a genre in the dropdown menu on the home page.
Netflix, take note.
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
It’s also hard as shit to find specific categories in Netflix because you can’t just search for genres, which would be a thing that makes sense; rather, you have to search for a movie WITHIN that genre, hope it has that genre LISTED as a tag, then click on THAT link, and then eventually there you are, back to the fairly large and all-encompassing genre of horror which totally merits a goddamn link in the dropdown menu, you fucking twatfucks.
Looks like you can still search alphabetically FOR NOW, which means that you can, if you are so inclined, find The Asphyx predictably near the top of the A-Z list. Not that you have to, because I think I may summarize the whole thing so put your reading eyeballs on.
The Asphyx is from 1972. It has the look of one of those made-for-tv movies that your high school English teacher showed you because it’s the most recent version of Taming of the Shrew or whatever that is considered appropriate by the school board for educational consumption. It sort of looks like maybe it was going to be a low-budget play and then someone was like “hey, I have a camera, who wants a film credit in their resume” and everyone shrugged and went “eh” but no one argued so Steve went and got his fucking tripod, which is JUST LIKE STEVE.
The premise of The Asphyx is that there is a scientist in Victorian England called Sir Hugo Cunningham (of course) and he has been studying photos of people at the moment of death in which you can see a blur hovering around the dying person’s head. Some Victorian scientists have taken this to be evidence of the soul, but you know what? NOT SIR HUGO CUNNINGHAM.
So then Sir Hugo Cunningham ends up at a party in a sunny place by the lake and in the 70s-est scene ever, everyone is prancing around having a grand old time until Sir Hugo Cunningham’s son and his fiancee are killed in a boating accident (it is, of course, the least explainable and most boring boating accident known to man) while he, Sir Hugo Cunningham, is filming the whole thing on his Victorian video camera. And Sir Hugo Cunningham sees a blur moving TOWARDS his son and not away.
This blur must therefore be…..THE ASPHYX.
What is an asphyx, you might ask? Sir Hugo Cunningham will tell you.
Sir Hugo Cunningham explains that the Asphyx is a weird little grim reaper within each individual that comes to get them at the very moment of death, and Sir Hugo Cunningham postulates that perhaps if one can almost die, one can capture one’s own asphyx and keep it in a decorative asphyx container and then LIVE FOREVER.
So Sir Hugo Cunningham and his young ward, Giles, learn how to capture an asphyx and manage to almost kill a guinea pig and then trap his asphyx so that the guinea pig can LIVE FOREVER. Sir Hugo Cunningham then decides that the next logical step is to capture his own asphyx as his contributions to science are clearly too important to lose to something as plebeian as mortality. Asphyx capturing apparently takes two people, so Sir Hugo Cunningham convinces Sir Hugo Cunningham’s daughter to help Giles by saying that he’ll let them marry if she helps out, and Giles is hella dreamy so she does. Sir Hugo Cunningham then almost dies and they trap his asphyx and put it in their family tomb behind a combination-locked door because fuck if anyone is gonna get in there and let it out. (The guinea pig’s asphyx is stored in there too, worry not.)
Next they go to immortalize Sir Hugo Cunningham’s daughter, because one small rodent and one mad scientist are enough practice for two dudes to definitely NOT fully decapitate their daughter and fiancé, respectively. Except, for some reason, this one is really hard to pull off and the excitement gets the guinea pig all riled up and he goes and chews through some very important cables and the lady totally gets decapitated and dies because WHY DID YOU LET THE IMMORTAL GUINEA PIG RUN AROUND FREE IN THE LAB.
Giles then kills himself out of grief and destroys all the asphyx-capturing equipment and Sir Hugo Cunningham destroys the slip of paper with the tomb’s combination on it because he decides that a shitty, guilt-ridden immortality is just the punishment for allowing his hubris to destroy all those he loved. We then see a hobo-ish Sir Hugo Cunningham in the FUTURE OF THE 1970s, wandering the streets of London with his guinea pig until he causes a fatal car crash, but police are stunned to discover that HE HAS STILL SURVIVED THE ACCIDENT.
AND SO HAS….THE GUINEA PIG.
Here’s the thing – this movie is kind of fucking great. It has this weird nostalgic feel of an oldy timey sci-fi short story like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark or something. I also just LOVE the 70s take on Victorian London. Were the lapels REALLY that big back then? Did women REALLY wear that much eyeliner? Did they REALLY groom their chest hair? It’s wonderful.
But also, the asphyx itself is AMAZING. First of all, it’s a weird godzilla-looking puppet. Second of all, it’s been filmed with the absolute pinnacle of 1972 special effects, that is, under blue lighting and lots of fades in and out of focus and sometimes that wibbly look that usually signals the beginning of a flashback. I dream of the day when I will go to a comic-con and see someone dressed as an asphyx. Or carrying a giant asphyx in a glass case. Please do this for me. This would make me so happy.
But most of all, I appreciate the pay off of the guinea pig.
He is cute. He stays safe. He has a grand old life of being cherished by someone who has nothing left and therefore dotes on him.
He must get a fuckload of lettuce. FOREVER.
You know what, fuck it FIVE HORRORS. Not because it’s good, but because I goddamn wanna. Write your own blog.